Hannaford Supermarkets has found a novel way of finding what customers like and how they shop.

Electronic trackers on carts and baskets are doing the job for them.

The Maine-based grocer installed the gray, square devices on baskets and carts in select stores this summer. According to the grocer, the units are intended to help improve the overall shopping experience.

“This helps us learn about the flow of shoppers in our stores,” Hannaford spokeswoman Ericka Dodge said by email. “The information can then help us design stores better and more conveniently for our shoppers.”

The company said the tracking system is being used “in a handful of stores across our market area.” It did not say how many of its more than 180 stores are included in the program.

CM Conley, Townsquare Media
CM Conley, Townsquare Media

The cart- and basket-based trackers do not know the identity of customers. They also do not compare customer locations with credit card purchases at the register, Dodge said.

“To be clear, no customer data is collected,” she said. “It’s about the path/route taken by the carts. This type of intelligence is quite common for retailers to do.”

It is not clear if Hannaford notified customers of this program. As of this week, they were in use at the Dover, N.H. store. There was no obvious signage explaining the units or their purpose.

A Market Basket manager in Somersworth said his store does not use this kind of customer tracking device on its carts. He is not aware of any similar tracking program in any Market Basket store.

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